I havea 1990 Jeep wrangler with 14,000 iles. It has been kept in closed garage since 1996 and used on weekends, etc. Suddenly I have no brakes. I am told that the brake lines, etc have melted into the car and I need a whole new set of rear brakes. The mechanic keeps pushing that it isn’t worth it. Estimated cost of repair is $500-1000. Questions: 1-can this sort of thing happen? 2-is it worth fixing if I use the car as a third car for friends and family and don’t worry about it. It is in excellent shape otherwise.

"I am told that the brake lines, etc have melted into the car "

I suggest a second opinion.

Non use can cause the rear cylinders (I assume drums on rear) to corrode and develop leaks. You should still have good brakes on the front disk brakes unless a caliper is leaking. Alternately, there may be a problem in the master cylinder. Even though the brake system as only 14k miles all the rubber parts are 18 years old so the entire system may need an overhaul. At least the drums and discs should not need replacement although resurfacing might be advised if pads and shoes are renewed.


There could be a problem with RUSTED brake lines, but they don’t melt. I suggest another opinion.

14,000 miles is low mileage. A $500-1000 repair bill is a LOT less than buying another vehicle.

You are right. I misunderstood what the mechanic was saying. The rust has corroded all the cylinders and everything-the entire rear brake system- needs to be replaced. My main concern was if I fixed this, would I be sure that the car would be safe for others to drive. He wouldn’t say; he says that everything is so rusted that anything could go and he can’t guarantee anything. I understand his reluctance and am of a mind to sell the car because I have a feeling that rust is abig issue here. We are near the sea and though I don’t drive on the beach, the air is pretty salty. Any thoughts?

A few other problems manifest themselves on super low mileage vehicles.

Vehicles are loaded with rubber seals and various gaskets. If not kept lubricated by the fluids in the vehicle, these seals and gaskets can dry up, shrink, and leak. This may be what happened to your brake system. My concern with this is that if that’s true, even if the current leak is repaired the rest of the system may be prone to sudden failure…another seal failure and sudden loss of brakes.

Personally, I would not want to continue to drive this vehicle without a complete brake system overhaul. A new Master Cylinder and new wheel cylinders all around…as well as replacement of rusty things like perhaps drums, lines, parking brake cables, brake shoe mechanicals, etc. The only thing I’d leave is the boost diaphragm because loss of boost doesn not mean loss of brake.

Is it worth fixing? That is an entirely personal decision based on how you use it and whether you really need it. I wouldn’t loan it to family and friends withuot the brake system overhaul. Failure to be able to start a car can ruin you day…failure to be able to stop the car can cost a life.